Personal Top 20 Favourites of 2000 to 2004

By chrisspurr chrisspurr
updated 2 months ago

An ordered list of my favourite albums from the early 2000 to 2004, accompanied by an explanation as to why consisting of content from reviews published by various sources.


  1. Brand New - Deja Entendu

    Release Date: June 17, 2003
    Genre: Alternative Rock
    Favourite Track: The Boy Who Blocked His Own Shot

    Brand New entered the pop-punk scene in 2001 with their debut album, Your Favorite Weapon. While the album managed to generate a decent following for the band, it was unfortunately panned by critics as a generic sounding pop-punk record. Things started to change with the band’s sophomore album, Déjà Entendu, named in ironic response to the criticism levied against their previous album. Written in the two years that they toured in support of Your Favorite Weapon, Déjà Entendu represents Brand New’s first steps toward a more mature sound. Lacey drifted away from writing solely about girls and adolescence, and started to confront his deep-seated fears of growing old, his anxiety over being famous, and his penchant for self-destructive behaviour. From the first aching notes, it’s obvious that the album is more carefully considered and cohesive than its predecessor. It’s sprawling in a way that Your Favorite Weapon never was, opting for drawn-out narratives that build up gradually and have a sense of history, a far cry from the hook-based songwriting they got their start on. Déjà Entendu saw the band transitioning to the massive emotional centerpieces that would become a constant presence on their following records.

  2. Radiohead - Kid A

    Release Date: October 2, 2000
    Genre: Art Rock
    Favourite Track: The National Anthem

    Radiohead were not only among the first bands to figure out how to use the Internet, but to make their music sound like it, and they kicked off this ridiculously retro-inspired decade with a rare album that didn't seem retro. Kid A, with its gorgeously crafted electronics, sparkling production, and uneasy stance toward the technology it embraces completely, feels like the big album of the online age. Kid A captures much of what people were thinking at the time: thoughts about millennial techno-dread, the feeling of helplessness that comes from having access to so much information about the world while not having the power to change any of it, and the subtle and dramatic ways that electronics are altering our landscape and our consciousness. For a record with so much baggage and such a reputation for density, the appeal, in the end, is pretty simple: other records were catchier, or better for dancing, or more appealingly nostalgic, but no other record captured the complex feeling of the era of technological change in such an elegant and beautiful way.

  3. Death From Above 1979 - You're A Woman, I'm A Machine

    Release Date: October 26, 2004
    Genre: Dance Punk
    Favourite Track: Romantic Rights

    When talking about Toronto-based dance punk duo Death From Above 1979, there are two incontrovertible, altogether unavoidable truths that must be asserted. The first is that in 2004, they released a record that, on nearly every level that matters, revolutionized the concept of rock and roll for a lot of people. You’re a Woman, I’m a Machine, holistically considered a breakup record, positioned resentment and indignation in a strangely congenial light. You could empathize with what these guys were going through, and even if you couldn’t, you really, really wanted to. Second, and most importantly, it revels in contradiction. It’s fun because life isn’t fair, it’s engaging because even the kindest people in the world can be callous, and it makes sense because sometimes sensibility is bullshit. This is a powerful, angry, highly distorted record that delivers twists and jolts and overdoses of human emotion that never settled on one or two premises. You’re a Woman, I’m a Machine is all of life’s tiny, menial inconveniences aggregated into one strangely understandable 35-minute album. Aggression may have been the cause, but enlightenment was the effect.

  4. Blink-182 - Blink-182

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    Release Date: November 18, 2003
    Genre: Pop-Punk/Progressive Rock
    Favourite Track: Feeling This

    Although Blink-182’s last album, Take Off Your Pants and Jacket, debuted at number one on the Billboard charts and the majority of the music press reviewed it favourably, it can retrospectively be looked at as the beginning of the end for this iteration of the band. Guitarist Tom DeLonge, frustrated with the lack of musical evolution in the band, decided to channel his desire to make more post-hardcore oriented music into his Box Car Racer side project. Rather than hire a studio musician, he asked Travis Barker to drum on the self-titled album which later became a point of contention for bassist Mark Hoppus, whom allegedly saw the project as a personal betrayal. Seeking to reconcile, Blink-182 finally opted to overhaul their sound for their next release. Between a rented house in San Diego and a later studio setup in Los Angeles, they spend the nearly nine months in 2003 writing, recording and mixing their self-titled album. Blink-182 took a new approach to writing this album, rather than use the same guitar tones and amp selections throughout, they decide to approach each song with an entirely different sonic palette. The experimentation and long gestation ultimately led to Blink-182’s most distinct piece of work characterized by an experimental sound, unique arrangements, hip-hop influences, and ambitious song writing.

  5. Green Day - American Idiot

    115 For Sale from $0.35

    Release Date: September 20, 2004
    Genre: Pop-Punk
    Favourite Track: Jesus of Suburbia

    Prior to 2004, few people would classify the music of Green Day as particularly sophisticated, intellectual, or thematically mature. The band emblemized a contemporary take on the rowdy counterculture retaliation of 1970s, and while it did an excellent job of it, no one ever expected the trio to branch out of its preset genre limitations stylistically, conceptually, or technically. Then came American Idiot, and everything changed. Part social commentary and part fictional narrative, the record came out of nowhere and blew everyone away with its biting political subversion, exploration of teenage angst, love, and uncertainty, and perhaps most importantly, brilliant structures, transitions, and overall cohesion. On the surface, it offered listeners a touchingly earnest and emotionally universal story about adolescent romance and rebellion that, combined with its multifaceted arrangements, earned it justified praise. On a deeper level, though, it served as a scorching attack on the hypocrisy and evils of the Bush Administration as well as the increasingly credulous and submissive nature of the American public. For all its grandiosity, American Idiot keeps its mood and method deliberately, tenaciously, and angrily on point. Music in 2004 is full of well-meaning but pan-flashing sloganeers whose tirades are against the government, and though they do fling their share of surface insults, Green Day frequently look deeper here, not just railing against the political climate, but also striving to show how that climate has negatively impacted American culture. Ultimately, American Idiot screams at us to do something, anything – a wake-up call from those were once shared our apathy.

  6. Modest Mouse - The Moon & Antarctica

    Release Date: June 13, 2000
    Genre: Indie Rock
    Favourite Track: Gravity Rides Everything

    The Moon & Antarctica marked Modest Mouse’s move to a major label after releasing two widely adored indie rock full length classics. While there was initially concern among fans about the band singing to a major label at the time, hindsight now shows that worry was unfounded. If anything had changed, it was that the band now sounded more confident than ever, chosing to focus on the kind of moody, almost literate, songs about aimless travel and psychic isolation that got them people’s attention in the first place. The Moon & Antarctica is a sort of concept album about cold and distant places, using the imagery of the empty void of space and icy corners of earth to tell a grander narrative about loneliness and individuality on earth. The album makes its point in great detail that the universe is a cold and indifferent place, and that your individuality may wholly be contrived, but ends on a surprisingly positive note, albeit subtly: it's shows that whatever feeling of lonesomeness or isolation you feel is a shared experience, that there are many lives out there just like yours, and you are truly never alone in that sense. The Moon & Antarctica is easily Modest Mouse's most ambitious album, a staggering leap in vision and scope from their previous records and a completely self-contained universe.

  7. The Strokes - Is This It

    4 For Sale from $120.00

    Release Date: August 27, 2001
    Genre: Indie Rock
    Favourite Track: Someday

    In 2001, and as ever, guitar bands were going out of fashion. The New York Times had run a cover featuring an electric guitar as a gravestone; the last couple of years have seen the release of Dr Dre’s 2001, Daft Punk’s Discovery, Radiohead’s electronic rebirth in the form of Kid A, as well as important albums from Eminem and Aphex Twin. Amongst all the electronica brought by the millennium, The Strokes were doing their own thing. Rather than looking to the future, this new and exciting band was returning to the crunchy rock of The Velvet Underground, The Ramones, and Sonic Youth. Eschewing complex production techniques, they sought little more than the sound of five people playing together in the same room. The result was Is This It, and unlike many of their predecessors’ debuts, Is This It was almost unanimously and immediately recognised as a classic. With their debut, The Strokes achieved that rare thing: creating a sound that is heavily rooted in its time and place, and yet is so enchanting that it manages to transcend that context. The album’s hazy nonchalance typifies early-2000s New York, but years later, the album’s sound isn’t so specific that it has ceased to be relevant: it is a sound which has matured rather than aged.

  8. Blink-182 - Take Off Your Pants And Jacket

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    Release Date: June 12, 2001
    Genre: Pop-Punk
    Favourite Track: Online Songs

    Blink-182 found a degree of mainstream success following their 1999 album, Enema of the State. While thematically the album was somewhat straightforward – a largely life-loving record unconcerned with reality’s greater questions – the sudden thrust into the spotlight, the turn of the millennium, and an unsure professional future forced the group to grow up fast, eventually birthing Take Off Your Pants & Jacket, an album that finds Blink-182 at that crossroad. There are moments on Take Off that feel directly reflexive of Enema: the title, for example, is a masturbation joke. Still girl-obsessed, Blink-182 spent less time pining over overzealous-yet-disinterested female others and more time on wanting to do something bigger and better. That mentality bred a number of more adult songs, such as a hopeful song for children of divorce and a song that directly critiques capitalism. However, in the midst of all this self-seriousness Blink-182 still refused to give up their light-hearted nature. It's a unique tension that unintentionally personified adolescence. Take Off Your Pants & Jacket is a great, cohesive album, one of the best in the band's repertoire, and the sound of Blink-182 working through their identity.

  9. Sum 41 - All Killer No Filler

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    Release Date: May 8, 2001
    Genre: Pop-Punk
    Favourite Track: Heart Attack

    Sum 41 was originally conceived as a NOFX cover band, then named Kaspir, by four young skate-punks entering their twelve year in school. When it became apparent that things were starting to become serious for the band they had decided to rename their group Sum 41, simply because the date happened to be the 41st day of that summer. This bit of the band’s history, the somewhat lazy and offhand rebranding of the band, in a way illustrates the attitude the band holds throughout their debut. All Killer, No Filler was the breakthrough album for a band of trouble makers that didn’t necessarily take themselves seriously. Angst filled in exactly the way you’d expect, All Killer, No Filler is an anthem for the anti-conformist types disillusioned by the adult world. Throughout, the album is skeptical of the dull routine of adults, postulating that perhaps life is about doing what you want to, and not what others think is best for you. There is a fear of growing up and becoming the lame archetype they see in their adult contemporaries. Both Sum 41 and the debut full length are an appealing mix of youth, ignorance, and know-it-all attitude, in spite of itself.

  10. The Strokes - Room On Fire

    Release Date: October 28, 2003
    Genre: Indie Rock
    Favourite Track: Meet Me in the Bathroom

    When The Strokes debuted their 2001 album, Is This It, they were widely hailed as the saviours of rock and roll, the band’s denim and leather swagger all but personifying the idea of New York City cool at the turn of the millennium. As with any widely praised debut album, the pressure to follow-up the record with an outstanding sophomore album was placed upon the band. During a relentless two year touring schedule behind their debut, The Strokes initially enlisted Radiohead’s producer Nigel Godrich to take the reins of what would become Room On Fire, but after nearly completing album, they decided the songs were sounding a bit too lifeless, they dropped Godrich and went straight back to Is This It’s producer, Gordon Raphael. With a deadline looming, and pressure from the label to stay on schedule, Raphael and the band managed to re-record, mix, and master the album within a few weeks. Room On Fire ultimately has many of the same elements that made its predecessor a success: the stop and go song structures, lo-fi percussion, telephone receiver vocals, and layered guitar work. However, where the album showed growth for the band was in the content – Room On Fire is hung up on the idea of failure, and this makes sense given the anticipation attached to the follow-up. From the beginning, The Strokes never comfortably wore the title of saviour. On Room On Fire, the band has the good sense to do what it does best and leave listeners wanting more, ending the album on an inconclusive note just past the half-hour mark.

  11. Modest Mouse - Good News For People Who Love Bad News

    Release Date: April 6, 2004
    Genre: Indie Rock
    Favourite Track: The Good Times Are Killing Me

    Upon its arrival, Good News for People Who Love Bad News, felt like the most radical departure of Modest Mouse’s career. It is undoubtedly a crossover record, one laced with the most brightly accessible material Modest Mouse had recorded to date, the album that broke them to a mass audience, and a bridge to the even more mainstream appeal with their following albums. As tends to happen with artists whose music cuts to the core of so many human beings, a portion of the band’s original fan base was alienated by that transformation. However, Good News is also as unrepentantly pessimistic, bizarre, and longwinded as any other album in their discography despite the musical shifts. Typical ambivalence and identity confusion are evident from the album’s first few seconds, anchoring the band’s celestial drift in characteristic despondency. Good News presented indie rock’s most triumphantly thought-provoking losers as beautifully imperfect as ever, but in surprising new ways. They were still the same old confrontational asshole geniuses, but this time around they made an album that managed to challenge their old fans as much as the new ones.

  12. Brand New - Your + Favorite + Weapon

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    Release Date: October 9, 2001
    Genre: Pop-Punk
    Favourite Track: Mixtape

    Hailing from Long Island, New York, now known for its fantastic post-hardcore scene, Brand New was born out of the ashes a number of bands local to Long Island. While a few of the members came from bands that had simply dissolved, lead singer and band founder Jesse Lacey came to Brand New from Taking Back Sunday after a falling out with guitarist John Nolan. As the legend goes, at some point during the duration of their close friendship and time together in Taking Back Sunday, Lacey's girlfriend cheated on him with Nolan causing Lacey to leave the band and go on to form Brand New. The band wasted no time comprising an original four song demo that had them signing with Triple Crown records after only their second show, following soon after with their debut album, Your Favorite Weapon. The heavily pop-punk influenced album is the least innovative and least mature of Brand New’s five releases but, just like with their later works, it is also a master of its craft. This is a record filled with anger fueled by the betrayal of a close friend and a lover, spending much of its time attacking the integrity of the parties involved or wallowing in the heartbreak that resulted. Despite all of its teen-like angst and immaturity, it still manages to sound uncharacteristically intelligent given the genre. Though this isn’t the same as the evolved and matured Brand New of today, this is still an excellent album, and not only because of nostalgia.

  13. Death Cab For Cutie - Transatlanticism

    Release Date: October 7, 2003
    Genre: Indie Rock
    Favourite Track: A Lack of Color

    The term Transatlanticism was coined by Ben Gibbard to define the incomprehensible emotional gap between two lovers separated by comprehensible distances and the challenges of navigating long distance relationships. Death Cab for Cutie’s fourth album, Transatlanticism, is a concept album of sorts, though it has a looser sequence than more traditional concept albums. Transatlanticism falls in the broader conceptual aesthetic category, using meaningful sound cues in addition to the formal songs to evoke a certain feeling; it is a complete package similar to that of a poetry collection. Its images, sounds and ideas appear, disappear, resurface in refraction and vanish again in echoing progressions. The songs offer individual moments, but even these are often more impressionism than straight up narrative. As a listener, you leave aware that you know each song, but in some less articulate way, you know the moments that make up parts of songs informing one another’s ideas. That’s what makes a good album great – its ability to communicate a message in a way never heard before, to make people think old thoughts in new ways. When listening to Transatlanticism, listeners feel every bit of what Gibbard feels.

  14. Taking Back Sunday - Tell All Your Friends

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    Release Date: March 25, 2002
    Genre: Pop-Punk
    Favourite Track: You're So Last Summer

    In the Spring of 2002, New Jersey-based band Taking Back Sunday released their debut album, Tell All Your Friends, on Victory records. As newcomers to an overcrowded scene, Taking Back Sunday delivered originality from the offset, collating the most exciting elements from hardcore, punk, and pop to create a dazzling hybrid that brought a heavier sound to pop-punk with its tendency towards yelling that paved the way for a new generation of music. With a following of kids set on rejecting the norm and more connected than ever before via the internet, Victory Records were quick to take advantage of these aspects and allowed very limited radio play of the album’s singles. Instead, the label distributed the songs onto online punk rock forums and early social media sites, a move that was key to the record’s success as it was the first of its kind. Tell All Your Friends was a collaborative band effort, with the music written by the band together while guitarist John Nolan and lead singer Adam Lazzara wrote the lyrics as call-and-response-style vocals. The album is largely based on personal experiences with violent imagery throughout helping create the high stakes feeling of each track, despite the fairly normal nature of the subject matter at hand. The primary theme of the album is betrayal, portrayed from both sides: it was an album that not only highlighted romance and heartbreak, but directly addressed the friendship fallout between Nolan and Jesse Lacey, after Lacey’s girlfriend cheated on him with Nolan.

  15. Billy Talent - Billy Talent

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    Release Date: September 16, 2003
    Genre: Punk/Post-Hardcore
    Favourite Track: Standing in the Rain

    Billy Talent originally formed in 1993 under the name Pezz, having met each other in secondary school. They began building a local following by self-promoting their own headlining shows and then building stages with strapped together milk crates and by the end of the decade they had recorded their independent debut album Watoosh. In 1999, Pezz became aware of an American band with international rights to the same name so a search began for a new moniker. Rather than becoming despondent about the name change, the band saw this as a kind of re-birth. They focused their sound, wrote a number of new songs, and Billy Talent was born. After more than ten years of slogging it out in the independent scene, the band was now hitting its stride and in 2002 they signed their major label deal. Their self-titled major label debut consisted of wholly new material that ultimately garnered a number of chart toping hits, a big accomplishment for a newly popular band. Covering a variety of topics across the album – including a post-break-up epic, a seedy suburban tale of mediocrity and madness, and even an anti-bullying anthem – Billy Talent created an album that has something relatable for every listener.

  16. The Postal Service - Give Up

    Release Date: February 19, 2003
    Genre: Electronic/Indie Rock
    Favourite Track: Such Great Heights

    It’s been forgotten that the initial reception to Give Up didn’t even approach universal acclaim, specifically because of the expectations that it had to contend with. The thing is, Give Up is a perfect album. It’s not a perfect album because it’s flawless, it’s a perfect album because its flaws so perfectly suited the mindset of the record’s eventual audience. Give Up succeeded on the backs of a billion MySpace adolescents and instant messenger status-update philosophers, learning to flirt for the first time through computer screens, far removed from the possibilities of heartbreak. If that sounds insulting, it shouldn’t. The fact that Give Up unintentionally sound-tracked every high school breakup from 2003 to 2007 is a testament to the immediate, undeniable communal aspects of the album: its cotton candy melodies, its unabashed melodrama, its dead-simple lyricism, and its romanticized melancholy.

  17. Death From Above* - Heads Up

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    Release Date: December 15, 2002
    Genre: Dance Punk
    Favourite Track: Do It! (Live)

    Just like its nineties' forbearer rapcore rock, dance punk was a genre that always seemed too good to be true. The term was bandied around a lot during the first few years of the early 2000s, and while a lot of artists were grouped together under the term, the genre never really reached its full potential and sounded as good as the platonic ideal you imagine when hearing the phrase dance punk. The gap was just never fully breached on either side of the divide – most rock bands associated with the term simply tacked disco bass lines and hi-hats onto their formulaic indie songs, while dance producers used it as an excuse to add weak guitar lines to their plodding, indulgent electronic tracks. Death From Above 1979 though, seemed to be the only band in the scene that really got it. DFA stripped their music of all pretension and boiled it down to its most primal elements: drums, bass, the occasional synth for a bit of colour, and a barnstorming rock n’ roll attitude. This short release manages do to so much with so little: utilizing nothing but thundering drums and a bass so loud and distorted it doubles as at least three other instruments, DFA effortlessly merges together all the best parts of hardcore, metal, dance, and house into a slick, sexy package that single-handedly justified dance-punk’s existence and provided a literal dictionary of riffs for a generation of bass players.

  18. TV On The Radio - Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes

    Release Date: March 9, 2004
    Genre: Indie Rock
    Favourite Track: The Wrong Way

    When people talk about this album, a lot of people are fascinated with the weird and crazy sounds on this album, which are great, but the way the album is talked about, you'd think that the album is just made up of odd avant-garde noise. This album is full of strange and weird sounds that aren't heard very often, with lots of strange atmospheric effects, pounding distorted bass lines, odd sounding brass instruments, completely acapella tracks, crazy harmonies and much more. However, the album is still extremely accessible, sounding simultaneously innovative. Even some of the more obscure tracks have a good and fun feel behind them that make them hard not to love. Tunde Adepimbe uses the album to explore what it means to be a black man and embraces black culture, but is also critical of the materialism and misplaced violence that are often associated with it. With two black members, it is an amazing feat that the group manage to insert these type of lyrics, which are usually associated with urban and hip-hop music, into a genre such as experimental indie rock. The group aren't trying to be something that they aren't, and it's very obvious that these guys are proud of their race.

  19. Rise Against - Siren Song Of The Counter Culture

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    Release Date: August 10, 2004
    Genre: Punk/Post-Hardcore
    Favourite Track: Rumors of My Demise Have Been Greatly Exaggerated

    Chicago's Rise Against might be seen as an outcast amongst it's peers. With two hardcore punk albums behind them, Rise Against crossed over to the apparent dark side of a major label with their third release, Siren Song of the Counter Culture. What a revelation the move proved to be with an excellent mixture of hardcore punk and melodic accessibility being the result, they blend intelligent vocals with a serious commitment to providing a positive alternative to the oft-dreary and disenchanted aura that engulfs most punk bands. Many of the lyrics are politically motivated to some extent, but are nowhere near over the top. In a historical sense, the genre has always been propelled by rebellion, but there are effective ways which Rise Against go about making their points. The simplicity and lack of complicated metaphors is actually refreshingly pleasant.

  20. Elefant - Sunlight Makes Me Paranoid

    Release Date: April 8, 2003
    Genre: Indie Rock
    Favourite Track: Now That I Miss Her

    Elefant was a lesser known band involved in the indie rock scene in New York City during the early 2000s. Their debut album, Sunlight Makes Me Paranoid, captures a quintessential sample of the music that scene was producing: British-style affectation delivered with New York sense of cool; minimal but striking guitar overtop a rhythm section laying down a metronomic beat minimal. There is a lot in Sunlight Makes Me Paranoid that sounds familiar, even though this is their first album. If you can get beyond Diego Garcia’s new-wave-icon posturing, Sunlight Makes Me Paranoid is a modestly enjoyable, pleasantly lean-sounding record, the kind of thing that would make you rest on the radio dial as you drive. The album, at first glance, seems to be monotonous in lyrics, however at closer inspection you can see that the album is telling a story; you will feel as if you're picking up Garcia's diary and reading stories from his life. As the stories unfold it becomes clear that this album is the story of an unrequited love delivered using an upbeat tempo complemented by Diego's melodramatic voice.